"If I Test HIV Positive, I'm Going to Commit Suicide!" (Don't!)
, support network
, recreational drug use
Cass Mann, an HIV-positive gay man and the founder of UKâs only gay menâs HIV/AIDS charity Positively Healthy (http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/), talks about how people sometimes feel suicidal when they think they're about to test HIV positive or have tested HIV positive, and why suicide makes no sense. A person who is diagnosed HIV positive today can with intelligence expect to live a full lifespan with a good quality of life so long as they follow medical advice and take care of their health and nutrition. People who commit suicide after an HIV positive diagnosis probably already had other serious issues in their life other than HIV. There were many gay men with AIDS who committed suicide during the "first wave" of AIDS in the 1980s. Anyone who contemplates suicide today after an HIV diagnosis hasn't examined all their options intelligently and coherently. There are various forms of suicide. One is when you take your own life by a specific act of commission. But those forms are rarer than "long-term suicide," a suicide that occurs over months or years that happens when you stop caring whether you live or die, and you take on behaviors that will result in your death but over a longer term. They're still acts of commission, but they're less dramatic. They take longer, but the result is the same, and you are still responsible for your suicide. That's a very painful suicide because it takes so much longer. A lot of the gay men Cass has known who committed suicide lacked a network or support system to catch them when they needed it. No one knows they're alive, so no one notices when they die, and that's dangerous. Gay men should get a support network in place at the outset so that they have it when they need it. You want to have people in place who you can share concerns with if you feel depressed, suicidal etc. Drugs, depression, and isolation all increase the risk of suicide. People have "deathstyles" that replace "lifestyles." People suffering from depression or suicidal feelings need immediate treatment. For more information, visit http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/ and http://www.AIDSvideos.org/.